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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Anne Arundel Scottish Festival

Greetings and Salutations to All my Kith and Kin and All the Ships in Outer Space:

On Saturday 11 October 2008, I attended the Anne Arundel Scottish Festival, which was held at the Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds near Crownsville, Maryland.

I planned to get there early, so I could help Mike and Joan Henderson set up the Clan Henderson tent, but when I got there, they already had everything put together.

The weather was perfect, with a clear sky and warm sun.

Joan Henderson had baked a nice cake for us to enjoy.

Mike and Joan showed me the latest issue of AN CANACH, which they'd just received in the mail that very day.

We were located near one of the stages, so we could enjoy watching contestants perform Scottish Highland dancing, accompanied by a very adept bagpiper.

Not all the Highland dancers were girls.

Quite a few boys were demonstrating their skill, which is certainly appropriate, since Highland dancing was originally a male ritual.

Also, not all the Highland dancers wore tartan.

Several of the lads were in sailor uniforms, and several of the lassies wore conventional frocks.

A good number of folks stopped by the Clan Henderson tent and signed their names in the guest book, including Harry and Faye Henderson, from Glenwood, Maryland.

Signing our guest book was Linda Henderson Boughner, born in Scotland, but presently living in Crownsville, Maryland, and her son, Colin, who also signed in.

A Navy family just back from Sicily, Alan and Rebecca Waldram, with their three little ones, signed in.

You should have seen their delightful little four year old daughter, Anika, when she spontaneously began imitating the Highland dancing.

As Mike Henderson said, "It's in her blood!"

A drum major, Ed Brett, from Fair Haven, New Jersey, signed in, and he and his wife, Mikki, and Mike and Joan all had a good visit.

There was a HUMONGOUS wooden statue of a guy who looked exactly like Paul Bunyan.

I couldn't figure why Paul Bunyan would be featured in Maryland.

But, when I read the sign at the base of the statue, it identified him as "The Fair Giant".

Folks said that in previous years, a kilt was draped around him for the Scottish Festival, but that they couldn't do it anymore because of liability issues.

Apparently, the power company, which furnished the truck for climbing up on the huge statue, was concerned that someone might get injured.

Although it was a Scottish festival, the Irish and the Welsh were also there.

At 11:30, Mike and myself, carrying the Clan Henderson sign, plus Donna Toole, of Whitehall, Maryland, and her son, Jon Arnold, of Littlefield, Colorado, along with the Waldram family, went to march in the big parade of massed clans, accompanied by a huge pipe and drum band.

I was the only one in our clan with a sword, which I carried in a salute.

In fact, I only saw one other participant, from another clan, who had a sword, so I copied what I saw him doing.

A lot of guys wore dirks, but almost nobody wore a sword.

An Army unit, in camouflaged battle dress, formed the color guard.

As we marched onto the field, the athletic competition was still going on, with a hammer tossed in our direction.

After the grand entrance of stirring Highland music by the massed pipes and drums, a chaplain, Reverend Ernest R. D. Smart, gave an invocation, which to my ears didn't sound at all like an invocation, but more like introductory remarks.

Mike said that might be because no one's allowed to pray anymore.

Then a native Scottish lady, Helen Toni, sang the national anthems of Great Britain, Canada, and the United States.

I wondered why, at a Scottish festival, she chose to sing, "GOD SAVE THE QUEEN", instead of "SCOTLAND THE BRAVE"?

Maybe it's because Scotland doesn't yet have it's own official national anthem, and is still officially ruled by England.

I did notice that among all the drum majors, there was one who refused to render a military salute during the national anthems.

One of the drum majors was a wee lad, maybe following in his father's footsteps?

Clan Davidson was presented with an award for BEST CLAN - SEPT at the festival.

Their tent displayed hand-crafted miniatures of a Highland croft and a historic Battle of the Clans.

Then we politely endured a speech by the mayor of Annapolis, Ellen O. Moyer.

After the opening ceremonies concluded, and we had returned to the Clan Henderson tent, we took turns wandering about the grounds and inspecting the exhibits.

I particularly wanted to see the animals.

There were Highland cattle, Clydesdale horses, and many breeds of Scottish and Irish dogs, with some available for adoption.

I briefly watched the sheep herding demonstration, before returning to the tent to allow Mike and Joan time to go look at the exhibits.

When there was a break in the Highland dancing, I'd play my guitar and sing.

Lee Catlett, from Chesapeake Beach, Maryland, who helped man the Clan Johnston tent next to ours, came over and joined with me in singing "THE BALLAD OF THUNDER ROAD", and he also signed our guest book.

A famous Scottish singer, Carl Peterson, stopped by the Clan Henderson tent, and sang along with me, as I performed "THE SKYE BOAT SONG".

I didn't know who he was, but after he left, Joan Henderson told me about him.

A large group of young military recruits came in, dressed in shorts and T-shirts, so I couldn't decipher which service they represented.

They had a tug of war with each other, and then, they had a tug of war with the wee tykes.

Oh, you never saw such laughing, screaming, and hollering as those little ones did!

Earlier, the wee tykes had a sack race, and since it was on a grassy slope, there were a few falls.

Ah, yes, it was very joyful watching throughout the afternoon as all those little young'uns and all the family pets went scampering and rolling about the grass.

The little children were obviously having the time of their lives!

The many puppy dogs were also quite pleased at the affair.

Alas, eventually, all good things must come to an end, and it was time to take down the tent and load up Mike Henderson's pickup truck.

I remembered to bring my camera to the festival, but I never took one single picture the entire day.

However, Joan Henderson did take some photographs, and also, a gal from the Festival committee took pictures of us and the Clan Henderson tent.

This was, by far, one of the best events I've attended.

If you get the chance to go next year, don't miss it!

Slainte mhath!

John Robert Mallernee, KB3KWS
Official Bard of Clan Henderson
Armed Forces Retirement Home
Washington, D.C. 20011-8400

NOTE: "My unpopular and controversial personal opinions are independent of my Scottish clan."

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